A film adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s time- honoured classic Ake: The years of childhood in which he covers his own childhood years at the prime of Nigeria’s colonial period 1934-1945. It is set squarely within the world war II years.
Soyinka combines a beautiful child-view narrative technique with direct echoes from the war as heard and imagined down in Ake-Abeokuta.
Apart from its significant peek into his first eleven years, the political import and rumbles of the war that Soyinka covers through the eyes of a child endows it with its greatest significance as both an historical and a literary text.
Ake is filmed in various locations in Abeokuta, Ibadan and Lagos on and off through some fifteen months.
A further nine months were spent in post- production, and is now set for a world-wide release in 2017. The film had festival exposure in Cannes, France early in 2016. Months before, it was previewed by the cast, crew and friends of the production at the Muson Centre in Lagos. Alliance Francaise in Nigeria also supported the film with the closed captions in French.
This compendium Ake, Great Moments of a Grand Production is a pictorial and textual narrative provided by the film’s director and executive producer, Dapo Adeniyi. Images featured are mostly cine grabs, with scant actual still photographs by photographers George Osodi and Akintunde Akinleye who happened on the production while rolling.
Wole Soyinka, Africa’s foremost writer and dramatist is also the first black winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986.
Aké began filming officially on 13th July 2013. The thinking was to set out on Soyinka’s 79th birthday. We had all kinds of outsize ideas as well. Someone commented that Aké saw the largest buildup of hardware in Nigeria’s production history. Red scarlet cam, HMIs, cranes, tracks and dollies, etc.
I should use this opportunity to speak to you about my own feelings about the entire project. First of all I want to say welcome. I am not too sure what Dapo here expects of me but maybe I should use the opportunity to speak to you about my own feelings about the entire project.
The first thing is to say that Dapo is one of the most dogged young men that I have ever encountered. He is like a bull terrier. He sticks his teeth into something…! From time to time, he might go to sleep, but if you wake him up, he still has the thing between his teeth. This is the kind of person he is.
I had in fact…, I am not personally interested in seeing myself portrayed as a child. It can be most embarrassing.
So, that’s why I was quite happy when he went to sleep and I said, that’s it, because the idea in the first place was of no interest to me. So, I’m quite surprised he has been working behind the scenes to bring it about. And we talked about a few things. I can tell you straight away that I have been impressed by the fact that he wants to capture especially the atmosphere of the period. I was personally gratified by that because one of the things I wanted to do in AKE was to capture a certain vanishing era. In fact I was going to write the biography of my uncle, the Reverend I. O. Ransome-Kuti, the father of Abami Eda himself. That’s the person whose biography I wanted to write. And not simply because of his personality which was larger than life, especially to me as a child, but because he represented that immediate, cast of the colonial, that independent bent of spirit, something about the vanishing colours, the smells, the atmosphere, the human relationships and so on, everything vanishing; I felt I wanted to capture through the biography of Ransome-Kuti who represented that era in a way that very few people embodied but unfortunately he died on me.
It’s so gratifying, the parts related to me, the amount of effort that has gone into trying to capture things of that era; the ambience. At the same time of course, you have to be careful. For me, the other word for cinema is cheating. You cheat angles, you make people disappear here and reappear there, when in fact they never left the spot (general laughter). Something that has been gone cannot be completely captured. So be careful not to get too obsessed with “authenticity”.
The other note I want to make is that as directors and actors would tell you, anything which involves a child on the stage or in a film is risk infested. You may want to kill the child actor for the wrong reasons to get it done. Number one, he is stealing all the scene away from you, which is excellent and we should all hope for. It’s a very risk-laden project which I think can be very rewarding. I’ve seen, you’ve all seen, a lot of films with child actors; really, really impressive. I saw one, I’ve been trying to remember but it’s an African one… .
Anyway, so it’s all going to do well. You have to remember film is very arduous, very boring. You going to do takes, retakes and retakes, nothing more boring than that. You’ll make a lot of enemies just to be realistic.
“Oh can you go through that door again?”
“Just look quickly away from the camera.”
“Leave me alone! I‟ve done it twice” (General laughter).
It’s a lot of fun, and also it’s a good thing to get together again. Unless you work together as a family, there’ll be hassle but if you create a sense of family it’s like a family reunion, every time, I promise you. So good luck.
I can be of help, just call me. Trust your director, trust your designers and so on and so forth. It’s only in marginal areas where you find it necessary to contact me.
When you finish, we’ll drink, we’ll watch.